MIAMI — The Heat’s defense may have stifled Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young all game in Sunday’s 115-91 Game 1 win of their first-round series, but the No. East knows she can’t expect Young and the eighth-seeded Hawks to go easy.
“He’s going to score the ball,” Heat forward PJ Tucker said of Young. “It’s a game. You see it like that. Treat him exactly the same the next game. Expect him to take a lot more shots and be a lot more aggressive, so we have to bring the same type of energy and even more. Because he will get better.”
After averaging 31 points in Atlanta’s two play-in wins to claim eighth place, Young was bottled up on Sunday as he scored a playoff career low of 8 points on 1 shooting. for 12 (0 for 7 of 3) and had more turnovers (six) than assists (four). His 8.3% shooting mark was tied for the worst field goal percentage of his career — including the regular season and playoffs — according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The Hawks scored the first three points of the game, but it was all Heat from there, with Miami leading up to 32 points in the fourth quarter. Hawks coach Nate McMillan, mindful of the quick turnaround between Friday’s victory in Cleveland and Sunday’s 1 p.m. local denunciation in Miami, fired Young with two minutes and 34 seconds left in the third quarter and took him down. kept on the bench the rest of the game.
“Miami played on another level,” McMillan said. “We have to take it to another level. There’s another level of intensity where you’re stuck winning every possession. We have to execute and value every possession in these games.”
The Heat seemed confident they would see a better version of Young in Game 2 on Tuesday.
“Look, he’s going to make more than one shot,” said Kyle Lowry, who had 10 points and nine assists. “He’s going to have more than four assists. He’s going to explode. But we just have to be patient and stick to what we’re doing.”
Miami, which ranked fourth in the NBA in defensive rating during the regular season, used switch patterns on Young in an effort to incapacitate him when Atlanta attempted to free him by placing screens on their main defender. The Heat’s defense was bolstered by the return of perennial Defensive Player of the Year contender Bam Adebayo, who overcame a recent bout of COVID-19 to play for the first time since April 8.
“Keep it in front,” said Jimmy Butler, who scored 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting, when asked about Miami’s strategy on Young. “He’s constantly breaking down defenses and forcing you to help, and if you don’t help it’s a lay-up, [or] it’s a float. And if you help him, he hits the right guy every time [with a pass]. I think we did a great job of not making mistakes and just moving our feet and staying ahead of him.”
The Heat traded 21 times for Young in Game 1, according to Second Spectrum, allowing 0.8 points per direct pick. During the regular season, Young averaged 0.96 points per direct pick against all opposing defenses that backfired, showing Miami’s expertise in that department on Sunday.
“It’s all on deck,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked about his team’s departure of Caleb Martin as Young’s main defenseman, as the Heat did. in the regular season, and the Sunday assignment rotation. “Requisites.”
Young acknowledged the fatigue that schedule has caused, but admitted Miami’s defense played a part in tying his own low water mark for the second-most 3-pointers he’s attempted in a unmarked game.
“You definitely feel heavy legs, but you have to give them credit,” Young said. “They came out aggressive, they came out with a lot of energy.”
This is precisely the approach the Heat expect from Young in a rebounding effort.
“You better be nervous,” Spoelstra said. “You have to be nervous. This team can really score in bunches. Obviously Trae Young can get on fire at any time. So if you relax anytime, all of a sudden he hits a few , it can turn into a lot more You have to respect that.
“And our guys have that respect, but even with respect, even being nervous, he’s still capable. That’s why we’ll just have to be ready for game 2 and somehow erase that memory and keep that edge.”
Young, who led Atlanta to a surprise Conference Finals appearance as the No. 5 seed last year when the Hawks won 1-0 over eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks before losing the series in six, said the experience is a reminder of just how swinging moose can be.
“You have to win four games to win a series, you don’t win one and you win everything,” Young said. “If that was the case, we would have been in the final last year.”